It’s surprisingly easy to be a remarkable freelancer, to stand head and shoulders above the increasingly growing number of the self-employed. All you have to do is to behave professionally and produce outstanding work.
Sadly, many freelancers have bad habits, which prevent prospects from hiring them, and send existing clients away to other freelancers.
What’s worse, these freelancers give freelancing a bad name.
Below is a list of 10 bad habits that cost freelancers clients. Are you guilty of any of them?
1. Responding Late to Communications
How long does it take you to respond to inquiries about your services? And when you’re already working with a client, how long does your client wait to receive answers to their emails.
One successful copywriter has told me she has gotten jobs, just because she was the first to respond to a query. This goes to show, being prompt–no, fast–in your communications can make a difference.
Timely response includes letting your client know you’ve received the additional information or instructions they sent, and keeping them posted every time you complete a milestone in their project.
2. Not Following Up on Proposals
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the money is in the follow up! Do you send proposals and then never get in touch with the prospect again?
Some freelancers hesitate to follow up, for fear of acting like a pest. However, people are busy, people forget. Your next project could be a follow-up call away.
3. Missing Deadlines
This is the top peeve of clients! When you set deadlines, make sure you can meet them. Give yourself leeway for unexpected delays or interruptions. It’s always best to deliver your outputs ahead of the deadline. Remember, under-promise and over-deliver.
4. Shabby Communications
Even if you communicate promptly, but if your emails and proposals are filled with grammatical errors, misspellings or erroneous calculations, your prospect will still run the other way. Double-check, and if possible, triple-check, everything before firing it off to prospects and clients.
5. Sloppy, Shoddy Work
Clients can tell when you don’t give your work your 100%–or more. Making careless mistakes and cutting corners are bad habits that are sure to make clients cross you off their list of contractors.
If your work is less than stellar because you lack the skills to perform it properly, then do everything you can to get up to par. Get extra training, apprentice with an expert, and practice, practice, practice until you get good.
6. Avoiding Problems
It’s inevitable for projects to sometimes run into delays, challenges and other unexpected problems. Do you give your clients a heads-up on these, or do you bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away?
It’s better to communicate potential and existing problems to your clients right away. And when you do, have some solutions in mind already. Don’t ask, “What do we do now?” Instead ask, “This is the situation and here are your options. Which one would you like to go with?”
7. Unprofessional Behavior in Social Networks
A VA friend of mine recently purged her Facebook friends to draw a clear boundary between her “real” friends and professional acquaintances. Why? She had posted something on her wall that ticked off a client.
Think twice, no, 10 times before connecting with clients on a personal basis in social networks. And if you use social networks at all to attract prospects and clients, then remember to always behave in a professional manner.
Also, avoid complaining about your clients in public (tweeting counts as “public”), or sharing details of their projects. Even if you don’t name names, your client will know when you’re referring to them or their project, and they will get annoyed.
8. Losing Files
Do you often ask your clients to resend files they’ve provided? Or, if your client loses their copy of your work, are you able to give them another copy… even one year later?
Misplacing documents and other signs of disorganization are a big turnoff. Get organized, back up your work files, and make sure you can retrieve anything quickly.
9. Forgetting Agreements
This is where it helps to get everything in writing. That way, you’ll have a record of agreements, decisions, or changes you and your clients have made.
An occasional lapse may be forgivable, but to be habitually forgetful is another good way to lose clients.
10. Not Going the Extra Mile
Clients want to know you really care about them and their business. I’m not saying be a slave, or work for peanuts.
However, it does pay to go the extra mile now and again. Do something unexpected. It doesn’t have to take hours or cost you tons of money. Think of it as chocolate mints on the pillow of your hotel room. They cost a few cents and only take a few seconds to do. What chocolate mints can you give your clients?
How Remarkable Are You?
Nobody is perfect, of course, and all of us are probably guilty of some of these things at one time or another. I’ve certainly made some mistakes in my short freelancing career.
The important thing is to learn from your mistakes, improve your work, and move on. When you don’t recognize your mistakes, that’s when they become bad habits–and very difficult to change.
The opposite of these habits is to be a reliable, professional, remarkable freelancer.
Have I forgotten any bad habits that cost freelancers their clients? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Image by gordontarpley